Q&A with Dr. Tom Inglis: Keys to success for antibiotic-free poultry

Posted on May 23, 2017 by admin

New expectations. New challenges. New opportunities.

All are coming together for the next generation of poultry production, as demand shifts toward an emphasis on antibiotic-free approaches.

Dr. Tom Inglis of Poultry Health Services, part of Poultry Partners, is a leading poultry veterinarian who has a unique vantage point on the front line of an evolving industry. He is one of the principals involved in a new partnership involving Country Junction Feeds and Poultry Partners.

In the following Q&A, Inglis provides insights on the keys to success in the emerging new landscape:

Q: What is driving the shift to antibiotic-free?

This has been a market trend that has been developing for well over a decade now. There is pressure everywhere, not just in agriculture, to have more judicious use of antimicrobials. At the same time, consumers are more interested than ever in how their food is produced and they are challenging industry to raise the bar on everything we do. Part of that expectation is more judicious use of antimicrobials. We’re seeing this reflected in the rising demand for antibiotic-free meat products, including poultry.

Q: What will be expected from poultry farms?

Antibiotics still have a role when they are needed to treat sick animals. But today we are being asked to minimize that need. As much as possible, the objective is antibiotic-free production. If animals need antimicrobial treatment, they can be pulled from the antibiotic-free production stream.

With the new rules now implemented in the U.S. for 2017 and those coming for Canada in 2018, therapeutic use of antimicrobials and any use for non-health reasons – i.e. purely for growth promotion – will no longer be allowed.

Q: How can the industry meet these new expectations?

The good news is we are better equipped than ever to provide what the market is demanding. We can achieve a high level of production that is antibiotic-free, without compromising the health and welfare of the animals or the productivity and profitability of poultry farms.

The key to success is to take advantage of new knowledge and innovations in areas such as health, nutrition, animal care and bio-security. By focusing more on disease prevention, we can achieve optimal production while greatly reducing the usage of and need for antimicrobials.

Q: How can progress toward more judicious use help the image of the industry?

Our industry has already come a long way down this path and it gives us a good news story to tell. We have come a long way in judicious use and more targeted use. We are becoming more innovative and efficient. We have tested ourselves to see the opportunity to increase antibiotic-free production in flocks and conditions where that is viable, and to substantially reduce antimicrobial usage in conventional production systems. In doing so, we have helped to preserve the effectiveness and lifespan of valuable antimicrobial options.

All of this is good for our industry and good for our relationship with consumers. The rising demands to reduce antibiotics use have ultimately been a positive challenge that has driven a lot of positive change.

Q: What advantages does the poultry sector have to keep improving?

With our controlled environments and the natural evolution of poultry production, we have a lot of advantages that fit well with antibiotic-free production systems.

In recent years we have done a lot of work to build on these, by advancing disease prevention strategies and by implementing improved approaches to promote bird health and welfare. We have come a long way with ‘all in – all-out’ production, which has many advantages. All of this is now paying off at the right time.

Q: How can partnerships such as the relationship between Country Junction Feeds and Poultry Partners help further raise the bar?

Continual improvement will always be the name of the game. We have to keep getting better. I think the next step is to improve the use of integrated strategies. There has been a lot of advancement in nutrition as well as in health and welfare. The more we can bring both areas together, the better.

When you start focusing more on prevention rather than treatment, the lines start to disappear and you want to work more with people with expertise on the feed and nutrition sides. We’ve taken a big step in that direction with Poultry Partners. With the relationship with Country Junction Feeds we are taking another big step. They deepen our expertise and resources on the feed and nutrition side. With their status as one of the first totally antibiotic-free, ionophore-free feed mills, that is very important as well. To achieve antibiotic-free production there is increasing emphasis to be able to prove feed is sourced from that type of mill.

We see very good alignment with Country Junction Feeds and its recognition of the needs of the future. They have a long history and track record of innovating and supporting the industry that speaks for itself. We see this as an excellent opportunity to further the multi-disciplinary approach that we believe is critical to the future.

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